Bitcoin’s very first physical step into Finnish soil was made in Helsinki, when Europe’s first permanent bitcoin ATM was launched yesterday in a record store Levykauppa Äx, which is known to experiment with their marketing.

There are other companies that have introduced bitcoin ATM’s in Europe such as the Swedish Safello and attempts in Slovakia and Denmark. There was even one at the Slush conference. However none of them were permanent and according to our data, this one is the first one in Europe.

Customers can now buy bitcoins for cash in the store with an exchange rate set by Finnish exchange company Bittiraha, who is also responsible for the installation of the ATM. The record store will also begin accepting bitcoins as payment and join the narrow list of stores and shops who accept this much discussed crypto currency in Finland. 

The launch is surrounded by a controversial atmosphere, as the record store talks about the ATM as an experiment and assures it has no clue whether its involvement with bitcoins will take off with a good start.

“Actually, we aren’t sure about anything when it comes to bitcoins, but we most definitely want to participate in anything which could shake up the traditional foundations of society”, says Jyri Lipponen, Levykauppa Äx ‘s commercial director.

They mention the possible integration of bitcoin payments into their e-commerce, if popularity of this payment method raises. The whole idea of bitcoins came from a group of the store customers, so some level of bitcoin flow in the store revenue is bound to happen. Curiousness will push new customers to try the new payment method, and soon there will hopefully be an experienced clientele who use bitcoins on a regular basis. All of this is speculation though; in the worst case scenario, the whole project will come down within a couple of months.

Whatever happens, I’m guessing the ATM is there to stay. What remains at an experimental stage is whether bitcoins can still be used as payment in Levykauppa Äx in the future.

It’s still a very visible PR stunt, both for Bittiraha and for Levykauppa Äx. Neither have been in major press headlines for a long time (if ever) and visibility is exactly what bitcoins need if they are to turn mainstream. Unfortunately, this would also require strong and visionary companies who would fully support and believe in the idea of bitcoin. So I guess we still need to wait on that one.

Yet, if it goes anywhere as well as the world’s first permanent ATM, which was installed in Canada and gathered over $940k in transactions in just 29 days, then Finland will definitely have a shot at a prospering bitcoin community.

Meanwhile, if you enjoy underground music (literally), I suggest you head over to Asematunneli and lose yourself into the vast supply of dirty tracks and EPs of Levykauppa Äx and try paying for any discoveries with bitcoins. After all, now there’s even an ATM for it.

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